Japan’s manufacturing deteriorated at the fastest pace in at least nine years in March, underscoring forecasts for the economy to shrink in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake.
The index of purchasing managers fell to 46.4 from 52.9, the Japan Materials Management Association and Markit Economics said in a joint release today, the biggest drop since the survey began in October 2001. A number below 50 indicates a contraction.
Elsewhere, the economic data on Wednesday had been somewhat better.
In the US, it looks like the economy continued to add jobs in March. Bloomberg reports:
Companies in the U.S. added more workers in March, a sign the labor market may be strengthening, data from a private report based on payrolls showed today.
Employment increased by 201,000 workers in March after a revised 208,000 gain in February, according to figures from ADP Employer Services. The median estimate in the Bloomberg News survey called for a 208,000 gain...
Another report today showed employers announced fewer job cuts in March than the same month last year, even as government payroll cutbacks climbed to the highest level in a year. Planned firings decreased 39 percent to 41,528 this month from March 2010, according to Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Public employees accounted for almost half of all job cuts.
Meanwhile, economic sentiment in the euro region has pulled back from recent highs. Bloomberg reports:
European confidence in the economic outlook worsened in March, after surging energy costs and Japan’s earthquake clouded global growth prospects.
An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the 17- nation euro region slipped to 107.3 from a revised 107.9 in February, which was the highest since August 2007, the European Commission in Brussels said today. It had previously reported a February reading of 107.8. Economists forecast a drop to 107.5, the median of 25 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey showed.